St Albans pubs and musicians joining forces to fight for their future

PUBLISHED: 07:51 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 07:51 03 September 2020

The Maida Vales performing at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, in support of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign. Picture: Tom Waters

The Maida Vales performing at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, in support of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign. Picture: Tom Waters

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Pubs and musicians from across the district are joining forces to raise awareness of the challenges they are facing in the wake of the pandemic.

The Maida Vales performing at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, in support of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign. Picture: Tom WatersThe Maida Vales performing at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, in support of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign. Picture: Tom Waters

The shutdown of the hospitality industry had a devastating effect on pubs, but also curtailed live music from being performed at many venues.

Pubs have always been a platform for bands and musicians, but now this has become more apparent than ever as the two struggling industries have

discovered how much they rely on each other.

One music venue that has suffered the most in St Albans is The Horn. They book their gigs a year and a half in advance and rely on 2-3 a week just to break even.

The Maida Vales performing at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, in support of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign. Picture: Tom WatersThe Maida Vales performing at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, St Albans, in support of the Save St Albans Pubs campaign. Picture: Tom Waters

Ultimately, this has affected the musicians and bands who showcase themselves. Enter Shikari, Paul Young, The Subways, Friendly Fires and The Gallows are just a few of the artists who began their careers at The Horn and other small music venues and attribute much of their success to these platforms.

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Rob Rolfe, drummer for Enter Shikari, couldn’t have said it better: “If it wasn’t for music pubs, Enter Shikari would not exist. That’s where we cut our teeth.

“We were playing the pub circuit and building our fan base around the country when we started to get recognised by the industry. They are essential not just for artists to have a stage to play on but for communities to come together and share in the spirit and value of live music.”

The venue has remained closed until this week, but music will be off the cards until next summer at the earliest, unless a vaccine is introduced sooner. With the help of crowd-funding The Horn has managed to survive, but other venues may not be so lucky.

The Save St Albans Pubs campaign was initially set up approximately four years ago to provide a platform to lobby central government on a wide variety of issues, mainly business rates reform and reducing beer duty.

But the pandemic forced the campaign to expand its remit and form the St Albans Independent Hospitality and Retail Association to support venues through the crisis.

Last Saturday at The White Lion in Sopwell Lane, local band The Maida Vales jumped at the opportunity to donate their time and talent in order to raise money for the campaign and bring the two industries back together again.

Paul Littler of The Maida Vales said: “Pubs and venues means so much to so many people for so many reasons. As a musician, they provide an integral space for us to perform and hone our art whilst building and nurturing our local community. We must come together to fight for our heritage venues!”

Save St Albans Pubs co-founder Sean Hughes said the campaign will be sending a letter to the Chancellor calling for continued support, specifically for pubs with VAT to continue at 5% with the addition of alcohol until April 2022, immediate planning grants for marquees for listed and Article 4 pubs, zero business rates for pubs until April 2022 and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to return in January and February.


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